Anglo-Dutch consumer goods concern Unilever yesterday posted a 58% fall in yearly profits to $1.1 billion (£699 million), attributable to the cost of its ‘Path to Growth’ restructuring programme.

But when exceptional items and currency changes are excluded, the result translates into a profits rise of 8% to $3.2bn (hitting the group’s target for 2000 of 8%–10%). Operating profits rose 0.8% over the year.

Unilever chairman Niall FitzGerald claimed the company was ahead of schedule with its reorganisation and refocusing on core brands. “We are well on plan,” he enthused. “Momentum is building, as is our confidence that we will achieve the very challenging Path to Growth goals.”

However, although the group’s leading products saw 4.9% growth in Q4, it still has many brands that are performing less well – yearly sales across the board rose just 1.8% in 2000, $100m less than anticipated.

The restructuring programme continues apace – last year 5,300 jobs were cut, with around 13,000 redundancies still to come; a further 300 brands from Unilever’s portfolio of 937 are also expected to be axed by the year-end.

News source: The Times (London); Financial Times